2011-11-05 / Outdoors

Sunday hunting issues heats up again

Sunday hunting is back in front of the state legislature with the public seemingly split down the middle on the issue of whether to allow it.

“It’s making my phone ring off the hook -- hundreds and hundreds of phone calls and emails -- and they’re split 50-50,” said State Rep. Dan Moul, R-Adams. “It’s a very contentious issue.”

He is a member of the House Game and Fisheries Committee, which held a hearing on House Bill 1760. The bill would empower the Game Commission to decide how many Sundays a year hunting was permitted.

Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, with 50,000 members, is the major opponent of Sunday hunting, saying farmers need one day a week to not worry about bullets zinging across their property or trespassers encroaching.

Groups such as the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, the Quality Deer Management Association and Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation have testified in favor of Sunday hunting. They say the bill would still permit an individual landowner or farmer to post his land against hunting on Sundays.

The number of Pennsylvania hunters has dropped by about 10 percent to 900,000 over the past quarter-century because many hunters are aging. Sunday hunting would attract more youths, supporters say.

They also believe Sunday hunting would draw more out-of-staters to buy hunting licenses and spend money in rural areas.

The House committee may soon decide whether to send the bill on to the full House.

It follows recent passage of a Game Commission resolution supporting Sunday hunting.

Farmers believe that adding Sunday just means another day of patrolling their land for trespassers, poachers and road hunters. Birdwatchers, horseback riders, hikers and others have long coveted Sunday as their day to have the outdoors to themselves.

Meanwhile, an economic impact report has forecasted that removal of restrictions would result in an estimated 8,190 new Pennsylvania jobs, generating more than $245 million in wages, and contribute approximately $765 million in additional economic activity to the state.

Forty-three other states allow Sunday hunting, which has been banned in Pennsylvania since 1873.

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